Skip to main content

Full text of "My Country And My People"

254          MY    COUNTRY    AND    MY    PEOPLE

of rice to feed her parents with, while she herself ate the husks
in secret. The passage where she sings about the husks, com-
paring them to herself, parted from the rice which was com-
pared to her husband, is by consensus of opinion the most
moving part of the whole story.

Soon, however, the parents found this out and asked her
forgiveness for past complaints against the thin meals. But
old Mrs. Ts'ai soon died, and old Ts'ai himself fdl ill. She
nursed him through his illness, and when he, too, died, she cut
off her hair and sold it to defray part of the funeral expenses.
With the help of her good friend Chang, she built her father-
in-law's grave with her own hands. Tired and hungry, she
lay down on the ground beside the grave, and in her dream she
saw that the God of the Earth had taken pity on her and sent
two spirits, the White Monkey and the Black Tiger, to help her
in the work. When she awoke she found, to her great joy and
surprise, that the grave had been finished, and she told the
story to Chang.

Chang then advised her to set out to the capital in search of
her husband. So she painted a portrait of her husband, and
disguising herself as a nun, she begged her way to the capital,
carrying a guitar. Going through all kinds of hardships, she
finally arrived at Loyang, and it happened there was a Buddhist
celebration at a temple, where she therefore went and hung her
husband's picture in public. Ts'ai, the bridegroom, happened
to come to the temple to pray for his parents, and recognizing
his own picture had it taken home. Chao Wuniang appeared
the next day at Ts'ai's home as a nun, begging for alms. She
was accepted by the prime minister's daughter, who sweetly
conspired with her to test her husband's heart. They were then
happily reunited, and the play ends with the two wives officially
honoured by the Emperor himself.

Such are the elements which make a popular play in China.
The story has that element of nobility which makes it popular
with the Chinese as the society's doings are popular with
English newspaper readers. It has an official examination,
which plays such an important part in the changes of fortune
in all Chinese stories. But more than that it shows a faithful
wife and devoted daughter, a pair of aged parents in need of